Berserkotron! It’s a great name, and one that has stuck with me throughout the years of my reviewing comics here. But when I went to link to my previous reviews of this series, it turns out that I hadn’t reviewed the first issue. Maybe because it came out in 2002 and I was just getting started back then? Well, whatever the case, the entire series has been collected in one volume, so now I get to see what I was missing. And… it’s pretty OK with some slow and repetitive parts! Eh, this is one of the first stories David did, and he’s since gone on to make significantly better comics, so it’s not like that’s a total shock. This is the complete story of a few friends getting involved in a fighting robots contest (that alone should date this story a bit), how one of them is very involved with the planning while the other is mostly taking advantage of his friend, the “magic paint” that will help their inferior robot survive, and the state of their lives as this is all going on. Oh, and a few different robots along with a few robot fights. When I was reading this in bits, in comics that were released months or years apart, I didn’t notice how repetitive some of the story beats became. Bert gets tricked into painting the robot early on, and his resentment of this fact is really beaten into the ground when you can read it all in one place. Don’t get me wrong, I still liked lots of the dialogue and the robot fights, but overall this doesn’t hold up as well as I had hoped. Which David acknowledges in his notes after the story, so I’m guessing this opinion won’t come as too much of a shock. Here’s my review to Berserkotron #2 (I still agree with it), and the extra material is fascinating from a creative perspective. If you’re already a fan of his work, there’s a lot to like about this collection. If you’re just now giving the guy a shot for whatever reason, maybe start with Dump #3 or some of his later work.
What you have here is a quiet love story between two teenagers all the way through the end of their days… or maybe you could go by the cover and figure out that it’s about robots fighting. And honestly, which of those things makes for a better story anyway? This is the second half of the story of Berserkotron, but it’s mostly about the interplay between the two friends who are putting the most work into building the robot and how they seem to be drifting apart, with only the robot to hold them together. Behind that there’s also another student who’s building a better robot, one that’s bound to destroy Berserkotron, and their climactic struggle. David has a handy recap of the past issue here and he goes on at length after the story about why he chose this artistic style, why he wanted to write about robots in general and a few thoughts about his experience making comics. I honestly wish more small press folks did this, as now this is going to be a comic I remember for the story and for the motivations of the person behind it, instead of just another mini that ends up in a pile in my closet. Solid work all around, here’s hoping he has more stories after the thrill of robots fighting is gone… $2